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Firefox To Replace Menus With Office Ribbon 1124

Barence writes "Mozilla has announced that its plans to bring Office 2007's Ribbon interface to Firefox, as it looks to tidy up its 'dated' browser. 'Starting with Vista, and continuing with Windows 7, the menu bar is going away,' notes Mozilla in its plans for revamping the Firefox user interface. '[It will] be replaced with things like the Windows Explorer contextual strip, or the Office Ribbon, [which is] now in Paint and WordPad, too.' The change will also bring Windows' Aero Glass effects to the browser." Update: 09/24 05:01 GMT by T : It's not quite so simple, says Alexander Limi, who works on the Firefox user experience. "We are not putting the Ribbon UI on Firefox. The article PCpro quotes talks about Windows applications in general, not Firefox." So while the currently proposed direction for Firefox 3.7 involves some substantial visual updates for Windows users (including a menu bar hidden by default, and integration of Aero-styled visual elements), it's not actually a ribbon interface. Limi notes, too, that Linux and Mac versions are unaffected by the change.
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Firefox To Replace Menus With Office Ribbon

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  • How time flies (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ArhcAngel ( 247594 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @03:16PM (#29519849)

    I had no idea it was April already.

  • by Jaysyn ( 203771 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @03:18PM (#29519891) Homepage Journal
    I agree.  Thankfully, I'm sure there will be a theme or add-on to fix this GUI abortion.
  • by alain_delon ( 1361705 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @03:18PM (#29519897)
    Please, don't.
  • Dear god, no (Score:3, Insightful)

    by RollingThunder ( 88952 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @03:19PM (#29519917)

    Why take away a perfectly good, easy to use menu and replace it with that shit-tastic ribbon concept?

  • Repeat after me, (Score:4, Insightful)

    by darkonc ( 47285 ) <stephen_samuel@bcgr e e n . com> on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @03:20PM (#29519919) Homepage Journal

    I can understand having it as an option for those few people who actually like the ribbon (which, IMHO reduces usability, while taking up way more space), but forcing that garbage on the general public seems like a waste of both energy and goodwill.

  • Windows-only? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by XanC ( 644172 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @03:20PM (#29519923)

    There's some argument to be made that Firefox should fit in to Windows, if that's where it's running.

    My question is, will this abomination also be applied to other OSes?

  • Ribbon sucks (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mmarlett ( 520340 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @03:20PM (#29519927)

    Menus exist for a reason (they are useful and organized), and the "Ribbon" takes up more space than the menus. The Ribbon's "Contextual" interface just means that things aren't in the same place all the time. It means that action A is not always in action A's spot, and sometimes action B is in action A's spot. It's just terrible. I guess that's the last I'll be using of Firefox.

  • by spun ( 1352 ) <loverevolutionar ... m ['oo.' in gap]> on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @03:25PM (#29520023) Journal

    Good point. However, Microsoft Bob was also the result of advanced research into user interface design. So was Clippy. Microsoft has a way of taking very innovative ideas and stripping them of all sanity and usefulness.

  • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @03:26PM (#29520037)

    It really isn't about the elements that they use but how they implement it.

    Ribbons for some apps can greatly improve the UI.
    Menus for other apps can do the same.

    Bad Ribbons can make things really bad.
    So can bad Menus.

    I like to compare Ubuntu vs. OS X.
    Ubuntu has all the GUI tricks and a lot more then OS X. However OS X still gets praises for being an excellent UI outside the Linux Zealot range even outside the Mac Fanboy range. Why because Apple spent a lot of time, much more the most Open Source Projects dedicate to. For using the right element to portrait the right job.
    Now Firefox is going to use Ribbons. Ill wait until I see if before I pass judgement.

  • by sopssa ( 1498795 ) * <sopssa@email.com> on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @03:26PM (#29520051) Journal

    However Ribbon's "contextual" system is horrible to user too. People get used to where things are, even more so with computers. That is why static, normal menus and buttons are good. When the system is trying to contextually offer the "best" options to user, in seemingly random places it thinks are most relevant, they just get confused.

    I use browser and I I've learned where things are. I know better myself what I'm looking for than some algorithm that will just mix things up.

  • Re:Clever. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @03:28PM (#29520095) Journal

    Interesting. My only experience with a ribbon-style interface is in a technical program that just upgraded to it (I'm still in XP and office 03). So far, it's been utterly confusing and ridiculously unproductive. Commands which were second nature now require direct attention to find. I've resorted, in some cases, to looking up the keyboard shortcuts in the manual so that I can avoid having to hunt through the ever-shifting menus.

    I can see how the interface might be useful to someone who has never run the program before - it limits your selections to the immediate, common tasks. For the experienced user, though, it slows down the process. If time is money, it's a very costly interface.

  • Re:why??? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Monkeedude1212 ( 1560403 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @03:30PM (#29520131) Journal

    See, I get it for Microsoft Office. Its alot user intuitive for users to find the save and print and formating buttons with the ribbon system they've got set up. Good for that.

    But seriously, when was the last time I used the menu bar in any browser? I enter a URL... I browse... I close it when I'm done...

    I hate clutter at the top of the sceen, eating up valuable viewing space for bigger pictures and such. I was upset when IE snuck a Search Toolbar in there without me really asking - since its automatically set to search if the URL doesn't resolve to anything... But whatever, removed it and got over it.

    Now they want to take that less than an inch menu bar and make it take up 2 inches of my screen so that I can NEVER use it. Besides the fact that I never find a need to go in there, everything will be relayed out and I probably won't be able to find what I'm looking for when I do need to.

  • by raju1kabir ( 251972 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @03:31PM (#29520149) Homepage

    The problem I have with the ribbon, and the reason I'll download an add-on to replace the menus in Firefox or just switch to Safari, is that it's a disorganized mess, with everything getting roughly the same amount of visual play. Worse still, some things get more play just because they take more space to show.

    With the menu, some things may be buried a few levels deep, but at least it's highly organised and I can quickly figure out where to find things using common sense. In the long run this works out much better for me. Maybe it's different for users who are just encountering a computer for the first time or something.

  • by CannonballHead ( 842625 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @03:33PM (#29520183)

    I wonder how much out-cry there was when Apple introduced the dock bar or whatever it's called. Not even being a mac user, I have no idea.

    It seems that people like what they are used to and are thus more efficient, right now, with what they are used to. People can argue theoretically all they want, but until you get used to it and THEN compare efficiency/usability, it's really not much of a comparison.

    Chrome, IMO, has the best browser UI so far. I actually really don't like Firefox's. After you started getting multiple toolbars going across the entire top of the browser window (or Office window, or whatever), with tons and tons and tons of buttons ... eh...

    IMO, tons-of-buttons seems to be an "open source" sort of thing. Throw more features at it and make it a button or menu. Example: KDE. Gnome is way better at that than KDE... but seriously, this is NOT just a Microsoft thing, and Microsoft isn't the only one that produces poor UI's. Most "geeks" seem to not care about UI that much, because they're used to complex interfaces. Most normal users aren't and probably use only what, four buttons: back, forward, refresh, and print...

    Designing a UI for the geek is not what firefox, ms, apple, etc., are trying to do. They're trying to design it for the typical user. Slashdot user != typical user.

  • by avandesande ( 143899 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @03:34PM (#29520211) Journal

    Not to mention that once you have learned menus in one app you can apply much of that to the next.

    Computers are complicated because they are complicated.

  • by badasscat ( 563442 ) <basscadet75@yahF ... m minus language> on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @03:34PM (#29520221)

    Actually the ribbon style is not built for eye candy but rather for usability. The problem with menu style systems is that it is not intuitive. There is resistance to the change because of 'menus are the way we are used to doing things' not necessarily the way things should be done.

    The way things "should be done" is the way people want them to be done and are used to them being done.

    All this "intuitive" BS is nonsense. What is "intuitive" about looking at a screen and picking something off a "ribbon" at the top of a bar over a bunch of text and images? There's nothing in human instinctual behavior that would guide that. We know to do something like that because we have learned how to do it.

    And there is just no reason to have to learn a new system when we have all already learned how to use menus. I still can't get anything done beyond the most basic tasks in Word because of the stupid ribbon, and I've basically given up on the whole app because of it. I used to use it for everything, now I use it as a last resort - I use Wordpad for most other things that I can't use Notepad for. (My version of Wordpad still has menus; I didn't realize there was a version with the ribbon. Now I know to avoid it.)

    You know what I wish people would stop doing? Assuming I'm too dumb to use menus, but smart enough to learn a whole new system that I've never seen before. And I'm sure a lot of other people feel the same way.

  • Re:How time flies (Score:3, Insightful)

    by davmoo ( 63521 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @03:37PM (#29520273)

    For real. My first thought when I read this was "Do we have some April Fool style holiday in September now?"

  • Re:Stress (Score:3, Insightful)

    by owlnation ( 858981 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @03:38PM (#29520303)

    Anything and everything that can be done to reduce user stress and increase user experience should be done. Old School menu bars and the xerox way of thinking is outdated and underachieved.

    No. We've had this argument for decades with keyboard layouts. The cost of retraining and adjustment is far, far too high.

    This move kills Firefox stone dead. Mozilla can kiss its market share goodbye. Why would anyone choose to use a browser that's increasingly overshadowed by Chrome IE and Safari that requires a completely new way of interacting with it? It's just too hard to overcome that entropy. You have to really, really want to use it.

    Personally, I will never use this as long as I live. I've already become jaded with Firefox over the awfulbar debacle, and the fact that Firefox really doesn't work well on a Mac.

    I'll stick with Firefox 3.0 until such time as Chrome is available for Mac.

    Firefox is the new Netscape. It will end up exactly the same way.

  • by buswolley ( 591500 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @03:39PM (#29520323) Journal
    Exactly. We need consistency for usability. When something shows up inone spot, we need it to be in that spot the next time we look for it. For things used a lot, it makes sense to have a quick launch icon for one click access, and that is good enough.
  • by avandesande ( 143899 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @03:40PM (#29520341) Journal

    Bottom line is that I hate having tools move around when I use them

    In fact when I develop applications now I disable contextually useless items but not hide them so the user does not waste time looking for a tool they shouldn't be using.

  • by gabebear ( 251933 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @03:40PM (#29520347) Homepage Journal
    Ribbons don't put "features in front of the user", they flatten the tree so that it's under a couple tab, then uses enough strips so that the one you need is off the side of the screen... well actually, the option you need is really accessed by clicking on the little arrow thingy on the bottom corner of one of the vaguely related options that may or may not be currently displayed because you don't have a screen that is wide enough...
  • by niiler ( 716140 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @03:41PM (#29520365) Journal
    I know the argument, but with people going with wide-screen laptops and the like, screen real-estate is at a premium, especially at the top of the screen. The menu-bar is small and compact, The ribbon is not. Even if the ribbon goes on the left or the right, it still eats up pixels. I much prefer right clicking for context, but that's just me.
  • by Jugalator ( 259273 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @03:42PM (#29520373) Journal

    Actually the ribbon style is not built for eye candy but rather for usability.

    True, since large menu hierarchies like those found in Office 2003 may end up as cumbersome and hard to find what you're looking for.

    But simple applications like Firefox do not actually suffer from this problem, and I think MS only did this in Windows 7 for Paint and WordPad to showcase their new Ribbon API in Windows 7, much like WordPad was earlier written in MFC to exemplify the MFC C++ library on MSDN.

    Stupid, stupid, stupid, IMHO. :-(

    Guess why MS isn't releasing the bulk of their apps using the Ribbon UI?

  • by RiotingPacifist ( 1228016 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @03:42PM (#29520381)

    Q: What is a webbrowser supposed to do? Display web pages.
    Q: What should most of the screen be? The websites.

    How often do you really use the menubar? 90% of the time its wasting screenspace and as people push for a consistent UI across platforms it's worth making the change. The next move for them is to take after apple and remove the pointless status bar in favor of a safari style loading/link in the addressbar.

    The ability to hide the menus is one of the many reasons i use KDE over gnome, if I'm having a conversation/watching a video/file managing I don't want to be wasting window space on a menubar i rarely use. The only advantage of a fixed menubar is that people are used it, well i for one welcome the menubutton revolution that will force people to get used to menu buttons and make this point moot.

  • by sherriw ( 794536 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @03:53PM (#29520589)

    The context sensitive ribbon... what 'contexts' are there exactly? I'm viewing a webpage or.... viewing a webpage. That's it! It's not like Word where I might be editing text or drawing a table, or manipulating an inserted image.

    Most of FF's menus are related to the configuration of the system. And configuration of the addons. This could be a little better organized but it's certianly not broken or a priority for redesign.

    Imagine trying to tell your grandma over the phone how to set an option: "Click on Tools, then click Internet Options"... oh wait... there's no more menu. "Click on the icon that kind of looks like a toolbox with a wand over it... er".

  • by COMON$ ( 806135 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @04:02PM (#29520751) Journal
    Well I think that it would be nice in firefox, as you alluded to, firefox doesnt have as many menu items. However, I personally would find it useful if I could customize the ribbon with my bookmarks and tools based on the task I was performing. Am I editing my joomla sites? Am I just browsing? Am I downloading torrents? adjust to the section of the ribbon that I want. I think that is what people are missing here. This ribbon wont be just like the office one, if Mozilla's other projects are indications, this ribbon will be highly customizable, they are just using the layout style.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @04:05PM (#29520819)
    Weird. My remote control has buttons like 'guide' and 'menu' that open up new sections on screen that I then use directional arrows and 'ok' or 'back' to navigate. How huge is your remote to have everything on it?

    As for grocery stores...You go to the store, move over to the produce line...go down to the potato section, then select the size and type of potato you want. Rather similar to how a menu lays things out (well, non-asinine menu systems).

    If I don't know where potatoes are though, I can look up at the ceiling, see the board listing the items in this row..go down the row for the sign listing the potato area, and then scan the little plaques until I find the one with the potato that closest matches what I'm looking for. No little potato icons up there, just words.

    *posted anon to preserve mod points
  • by johnlcallaway ( 165670 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @04:06PM (#29520839)
    With a menu, I can click on 'File', then drag my mouse across to try and find a relevant item reasonably quickly. All menus drop down into a small area allow for easy scanning of choices, all menu items and menus are in a single, vertical, left-aligned column showing keyboard shortcuts. The ribbon bar is spread across the entire top of the windows, and the various options don't even line up. Some are across the top, some are across the bottom. Some have vertical options. Unless you put the mouse on something and hover over it, the keyboard shortcut doesn't even display. Intuitive?? If by intuitive someone means that you can click on an icon or picture that you don't understand and it will do something then yes, it is intuitive.

    Many users see the alt key combos on a menu and know how to use them for things they need the most, so they don't even need the menu. My wife used to be surprised when I would do something without the mouse, like bold an Excel cell, and then she would try it herself and often comment on how much easier it was.

    The ribbon bar does offer more capability for displaying options than a menu does, but it takes up more space -- it's HUGE when compared to a menu. Why they don't offer a 'small icons without text' option I don't know. It does provide a better interface for people who aren't afraid to click on something to see what it does. Which is the minority of computer users.

    For the minuscule amount of time it might save later, it's all lost while spending minutes trying to find out there the 'Pivot Table' option is now (it used to be under the data menu, but they moved it to the insert ribbon). But Microsoft and Apple are all about dumbing down the computer so any moron can use it without any skills or knowledge. Just point and click. That's why Grandma can't find files after she downloads them, she has no clue about what computers do, how they work, or what file systems or directories are. It's not that she isn't capable of learning, it's that it's all hidden and she can't find out even if she wanted to. I'm always amazed at people who have used computers for years and have no concept about files and directories, the very basis for almost all programs on a computer. Instead, they use organizers that put files who-knows-where, then they get all upset when they run out of space because the 'C' drive is full and they can't figure out how to put new files on the new hard drive I just installed.

    I don't mind offering the ribbon bar as an option for the new user, or for those that truly like it better. But if Firefox or Office is already installed, please keep the old settings and then ASK me if I want to change to the new ones. It would be really nice to have something that says 'You've been using ribbons for a couple of days now, want to make it permanent?' rather than hiding the option to change it 12 layers deep behind some obscure reference.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @04:09PM (#29520885)

    Bob was the result of pillow talk rather than advanced research.

  • by ThrowAwaySociety ( 1351793 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @04:09PM (#29520887)

    They also have context-aware ribbons, such as picture and table editing which appear and hide themselves only when you are working on that specific object.

    This is a horrible idea, because users frequently do not understand the different context modes. Wheras with menus, the commands are consistent in both placement and appearance, but can still be context-sensitive. Inactive commands do not disappear, but are dimmed. Users can see that the command is still there, but not available, and are not left hunting madly through tabs for a command that they swore was right there a minute ago....

  • by BenFenner ( 981342 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @04:09PM (#29520903)
    I'm with you. The reason I feel so confident walking around and fixing my user's problems even though I may never have worked with the program they are using before, is because menus make things easy to find. http://www.xkcd.com/627/ [xkcd.com]
    Now that our users have Office 2007, it's a fumbling match between me, the user, and the software one with which I've never seen before in my life. If these contextual menus persist, we'll all be lost, not just the regular users. When your IT guy is confused, then where do you turn?
  • by Morkano ( 786068 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @04:12PM (#29520945)

    I stopped when he used the "word" "ppl". We have a full keyboard here, use it.

  • by onemorechip ( 816444 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @04:20PM (#29521069)

    No real world example of CLI? How about natural language?

    "Pass the salt, please!"

    "Here you go!"

  • Re:Clever. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @04:27PM (#29521221)

    I've been using office 2007 since it came out. And i had to use open office at a client. the shear speed at which i found all the functions in open office was simply amazing. I still have to use Google to find some tasks in office 2007, tasks which i knew how to find with the menu system.
    That's almost 2 years and still a decreased productivity..

    I've been comparing... the ribbon also results in more use of the mouse.. the same things require more mouse clicks.

    nope... no ribbon for me thank you very much.

    besides.. firefox is great becaus you can actually change the menu layout. (unlike IE) to regain a lot of otherwise wasted space. I only wish the tabs could be in the window title instead of separate bar.

  • by Posting=!Working ( 197779 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @04:30PM (#29521253)

    This guy nicely defines the mentality behind bloat:
    "Office had a problem--people weren't finding and using the new features."

    He thinks the reason most people weren't using new features was because they couldn't find them. Never enters his mind that 99% of people don't want or have the slightest need for the new features. The 1% that want them probably could find them.

    "If you want to look through Word 2003 to find an unfamiliar command, you need to look through 3 levels of hierarchical menus, open up 31 toolbars and peruse about 20 Task Panes. It's hard to formulate a "hunting" strategy to find the thing you're looking for because there's no logical path through all of the UI."

    So the justification for the ribbon is "Look at how bad we screwed up the menus before the ribbon! What a bunch of morons we were!"

  • by je ne sais quoi ( 987177 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @04:37PM (#29521399)
    Whatever the source of the data that they used, the result is something that the majority of advanced excel users hate [exceluser.com] and about 80% dislike. For intermediate users, about 40% hate it and 60% dislike it. Basically, people who know how to use excel already can't stand this ribbon, so MS has just royally pissed off some of their best customers perhaps to the benefit of those who don't use it so often. I have seen more people migrate to linux on their laptops due to this single "feature" than anything else. The ribbon is an even more than the problems with vista, although it is more of a straw that broke the camel's back sort of thing.

    I already dislike the new gui for firefox on the mac (why in the world does the back button need to be so big?), and use safari because of it, but on linux I use FF all the time. I guess I'm going to sit back and hope that midori [twotoasts.de] is released soon, or use konqueror.
  • by Ghostworks ( 991012 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @04:37PM (#29521417)

    Another important thing to remember that menus hide unused and rarely-used features. In most modern software that's actually a pretty good thing, as very few people need or want to leverage every single feature of an application in one session. It makes it harder to discover those features, but once you learn where they are the first time around, it's a solved problem. By presenting the user with large blocks of mostly unwanted toolbars, the ribbon scheme steals valuable vertical space without offering any usability savings over the initial discovery. You still have to switch between ribbon states to find half the features you want, and select from drop-down lists of icons insted of drop-down menus of options.

    This will mesh better with Microsoft's vision of a modern application, for what that's worth. It might make some features easier to discover (I know people who are still surprised to learn about Firefox's keywords feature). Even so, I doubt it will be more popular than the current design, lead to significant changes in the way people use Firefox's features, or be worth the loss of valuable vertical real-estate. The only good thing I can say about it is that most people don't need to use menus in Firefox as it is, and the ribbon can probably be hidden like the URL bar, menu bar, and toolbars can already be hidden.

  • by g253 ( 855070 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @04:44PM (#29521533) Homepage
    Haven't we had that argument a couple of times here already? Anyway : the reason you had trouble with it is not because it isn't intuitive, it's because you're very fluent with and accustomed to the old UI.

    Here's a nice little car analogy : if you gave a modern car to someone used to a Model T, he would find changing gear awfully counter-intuitive, have to learn to drive again almost from the scratch, and complain loudly that it worked just fine so why the hell change it. The modern approach is still better.

    Jesus, here we are on Slashdot, and people are bitching about Microsoft not maintaining backards compatibility...
  • by xaxa ( 988988 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @04:45PM (#29521545)

    The way things "should be done" is the way people want them to be done and are used to them being done. Bull....to an extent. Intuitive means it behaves in a way that you can reason out, that is natural. CLIs for instance are not intuitive, there is no real world example of CLI

    The other reply has mentioned natural language.

    I read a study where some old people were taught how to use a computer (some Linux distro) using the CLI for most tasks. Most of them quickly understood the give command/get response paradigm, one said it was like talking to a child -- you had to be precise and specific, and exactly what you asked for would be done.

    Think remote controls, all buttons are in front of you, at best there is an +10 on the remote.

    The meanings of the buttons changes according to what's on the screen. My grandma doesn't like her new TV, it has "too many buttons". This isn't an interface we should replicate.

    Or consider a more organic approach, at a grocery store you dont have to push fruit out of the way to get to the vegetables to get to the potatoes. You go to the produce isle and head for the potatoes right in front of you.

    File -> Save
    Produce -> Potatoes

    Looks like a menu to me. (Salads -> Potato, on a dinner menu -- that's why it's called a menu!)

    having them memorize a menu system is not useful.

    You don't need to memorise a menu system, that's the whole point. The options you have are grouped according to their function, if you want to change the text colour try the "Formatting" menu, etc.

    With a toolbar the minimum is to learn what each picture means, and this is significant. Grouping the icons is essentially making menus without text.

  • by drsmithy ( 35869 ) <drsmithy@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @04:47PM (#29521599)

    Even MS understood this with Win7, where they made the overall UI responsiveness faster, even if the actual things are still loading.

    They understood it a lot further back than that. In Windows 95, the foreground window thread automatically ran at a higher priority than background window threads.

    (Heck, Windows has pretty much _always_ had one of the most responsive UIs.)

  • by raju1kabir ( 251972 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @04:48PM (#29521609) Homepage

    I don't think this is because of organization, I think it is because of all the rote learning you've done. You aren't reading & reacting to the menu bar you "just know" where to go because you've done it a million times.

    Actually I specifically meant to refer to situations where I don't know how to perform the task in question. With the menu bar I can quickly figure it out. With the ribbon I am flipping things in and out, trying to find something that seems relevant, wasting vast amounts of time waiting for tooltips to appear on undecipherable icons.

  • by WARM3CH ( 662028 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @04:48PM (#29521611)
    I think you're wrong. In my experience many people didn't know certain things could be done in Word or Excel until they saw it in the ribbons. In my work environment this issue came up several times and they were surprised when I told them that this or that feature existed in since office xp! I had to use office for years on a daily basis. Moving to ribbons was not difficult for me. After a week I could appreciate the difference and now after two years I'm not going back to the menus.
  • by danbert8 ( 1024253 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @04:49PM (#29521621)

    Actually, on a modern car, with the exception of park and lower gears (which most people STILL don't understand), on an automatic transmission, they don't have control over the shifting anyway. He would probably appreciate the power steering and brakes as well. The driving interface is quite possibly the best user interface I know of, because the basic design hasn't changed since the days of the horseless carriage.

    To continue with your car analogy, the switch to the ribbon is like switching a car to a joystick... It might be more intuitive for younger people (who play too much Xbox), but it isn't necessarily the best tool for the job.

  • by mpapet ( 761907 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @04:53PM (#29521689) Homepage

    Mod parent down.

    The ribbon system allows for the logical grouping of actions by function.
    What, exactly, is logical about the Home ribbon in Excel then? SMASHED in with cut/paste is formatting and sorting. None of which are particularly clue-ful or present any sense of order whatsoever.

    How come there isn't a 'File' tab with lots of file functions smashed together?

    In addition, every common action can be performed in two mouse clicks or less: one to select the ribbon governing what you would like, and one more to select the specific action.

    Opening a file? at least three clicks. Printing? three clicks. Sorting? At least two, probably more clicks for most sorts. Data activities? Three clicks at least. Stop spreading misinformation

    I'll give you the undo/redo buttons conform to your claims, and there is 'buttonizing' of some things that Microsoft probably had complaints about, but as broadly as you make your claims they are materially false.

    Please, don't change the scope of your sweeping declarations in order to for your claims to approximate truthiness.

  • by CarpetShark ( 865376 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @05:00PM (#29521837)

    No it doesn't. Not everything that lacks a menu is a ribbon. And watch your tone next time.

  • by Capt. Skinny ( 969540 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @05:00PM (#29521839)

    I don't think this is because of organization, I think it is because of all the rote learning you've done. You aren't reading & reacting to the menu bar you "just know" where to go because you've done it a million times.

    Menus don't require rote learning. Menu items are text descriptions organized in an aligned list. If want to accomplish a task that you aren't used to doing, you can easily look through the list of menu items to find something that seems to apply. With the ribbon, on the other hand, you DO have to learn where things are by rote. If you don't know where something is, you have to look all over the damn ribbon to find it. Once you do it enough, you'll know where that item is, but until then it's all hunting and mouse-overs.

  • by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @05:06PM (#29521967) Journal

    >>>people are bitching about Microsoft not maintaining backards compatibility...

    Well I've tried and failed multiple times to make Wing Commander operate on Microsoft and failed spectacularly...... but never mind that. - Improvement is only an improvement if the overall usage is improved. Yeah I know you're probably thinking "No shit sherlock", but that basic idea is something many people overlook.

    The current interface presents a nice CLEAN list of commands, which can be quickly and easily scanned. The new ribbon interface presents a confusing mess of pictures and words that make a "quick scan" very difficult. It's the computer equivalent of tacking an organized library, and just randomly tossing books everywhere. Yes the books might be neatly arranged, but they are still random to the eye, and finding the book you want becomes very difficult.

    Put the books/menu commands back in a nice, serial order so the human eye can scan and find what it's looking for.

  • by Hangtime ( 19526 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @05:09PM (#29522021) Homepage

    You sound like a Microsoft developer I curse everyday. For those who actually have to be productive ie those of us in Finance Excel 2003 works great. Everyone knows where everything is and has modified the menus and buttons to make them more productive. Of course, the Ribbon is not for the power user its for the user who has no idea what they want thus its geared towards the lowest common demoninator ie the secretary or grandma. Anytime I have to drop into 2007 I lose 30 - 40% of my productivity because things that were one or two clicks away you have to first find then you are 4 - 5 clicks. Ribbon is just another word for unproductive mess.

  • by slack_justyb ( 862874 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @05:18PM (#29522159)
    Apple has a look and feel that screams Apple. Most vendors comply with the look and feel. That Aqua, gray and blue like look.

    GNOME has a HIG that they really would love for everyone to follow. You're not forced to but, you can almost spot the applications that don't follow the GNOME HIG. That makes up a lot of the look and feel, add Ubuntu's wonderful brownish / orange; Fedora's blueish; or SuSE's green everywhere and you have a look and feel that screams the distro's GNOME.

    Microsoft has the Aero glass and wonderful (*snicker*) ribbon. Microsoft is slowly getting everyone on the glass and ribbon theme. There is no absolute rule that you must use glass and ribbon styles on your Microsoft application, but people notice when it doesn't match up. It gives Microsoft that Post-XP look and feel.

    In the end, operating systems are trying to make a look that defines them, that people can easily recognize. Much like Google has their own look and feel of blue and flat that they've got going on. People identify readily with a unique look and feel and that is, in a nutshell, cheap advertising. There is nothing wrong with developers not going along with the look and feel an OS uses, Winamp comes to mind as a big one, but it automatically points out that the user is using something different, something not part of the OS; and if the OS is using a really slick look and feel with all kinds of neat effects, not going with the OS look and feel makes you look dated, or posing (if you're trying to do your own slick look and feel effects.)

    For 90% of us here on Slashdot, this is all just a bunch of useless eye candy. However, it's a real important factor for the other whatever percentage of the general population who just buy into marketing hype.

    Chrome looks out of place on Windows sans the glass effect. It looks like a giant blue rubber browser. However, that doesn't mean that it is silly, just looks exactly not like a Windows Vista/7 application. We can debate the merits of looking like a Windows application till the cows come home, point being it looks out of place.

    Whatever your take is on the ribbon UI, I won't argue you there, but that's where Microsoft looks like they're heading for general UI, just like Mac OS X puts the menu bar at the top of the screen. It's just part of that look and feel and companies are very geared to have a distinct look and feel so that people can instantly recognize that the product in use.

    So are we going to toss stones at Mozilla for actually going the with the look and feel of a Windows program, when they try to achieve the same on Mac OS X and Linux? I think the better answer for all the people who are heading down to the rock quarry is: If you do not like the glass/ribbon look and feel, maybe you should change to an OS that matches the way you want it to look?

    I can almost hear the angry replies, but I will say this in my defense. The look, feel, and usability of a given OS is a marketable thing. I ditched Windows when I saw what they were going to do with Windows post-3.11. I couldn't stand it, but I understood that this was the way Microsoft was going (start buttons, browser like file navigation, etc...) I can not fight a war with a company that is trying to market stuff. So, I switched to an OS where I could dictate how things are going to work, Linux. I've not looked back since.

    We just need to understand that Mozilla is bringing their application to look like a Microsoft application, just like they did with the Linux version of Firefox when they added GTK+ integration. Just like they are trying to do with making Firefox look like a Mac OS X program. So, come on, if you don't like the direction MS is taking with their look and feel, stop waiting for more applications to break ties with the Microsoft look and feel. Instead, switch over to an OS that matches what you want. It's not that hard really, and after a few weeks, you won't notice the difference. Let's make peace, not cast stones.
  • by Pvt_Ryan ( 1102363 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @05:31PM (#29522359)
    I don't think I will like this on FF. BUT in office it works. I actually like it.. I can find features that I used to use and always had to google for at my finger tips..
    IMHO the office ribbon bar is the menu system for office finally done right.
    will it work in FF? I don't know.
    More annoying than this is as of FF 3.5 you can now longer kill the instance if you close the last tab.. Instead it is noop or blank, that's fucking annoying!!!
  • by Pvt_Ryan ( 1102363 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @05:33PM (#29522397)
    except when it was hanging, which lets face it, is about 90% of the time..
  • by DrLang21 ( 900992 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @05:43PM (#29522535)
    My biggest problem with the system is the strict use of pictorial representations of functions. I don't know what "Properties" or "Insert" or "Cross Reference" is supposed to look like. Nor would anyone be able to describe to me how to find them since they would be describing a tiny icon picture which I would then have to interpret instead of using a single word explanatory statement.
  • by Jeff DeMaagd ( 2015 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @06:00PM (#29522781) Homepage Journal

    It can't be any worse than an inappropriate use of monospaced font on a web site.

  • by Jay L ( 74152 ) * <jay+slash&jay,fm> on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @06:05PM (#29522829) Homepage

    And the third funny thing is that there's simply no way any "advanced Excel user" would, or COULD switch to Linux, because OOo can't do as much as Excel can.

  • by N1AK ( 864906 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @06:05PM (#29522831) Homepage
    I've been using office for years, and in my current role have to use excel excessively. To guestimate, I would say 60% of my time is spent working in that program. I would hate to have to give up 2007 and the ribbon.

    Anyone who has been using Excel 2007 for months and estimates their productivity has taken a sizeable drop isn't a advanced or intermediate user. I can respect the view that 2007 is less intuitive (even though I disagree) but it is plain bollocks to say it is slower once you know how to use it (and an advanced user is capable of learning new methods ffs).

    When I hear morons talk about muscle memory in Excel I know they don't understand what an advanced user is. Did ANY advanced user actually grab the mouse and click on a menu option rather than using one of the numerous keyboard shortcuts?
  • by Evil Shabazz ( 937088 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @06:07PM (#29522865)
    You are all complaining about a complete non-issue. But this is /., so that's to be expected. The ribbon actually IS a much better menu system once you get used to it. All the normal things that most users generally use are pretty easy to find, and many of the mid-level and intermediate things they weren't already aware of are presented more easily. And, the shortcut keys for advanced users weren't changed for the most part.

    Most people who actually give the ribbon a chance get used to it in about 2 weeks - much better than most software changes as big as moving to the ribbon. It's just the people railing against it for the sake of railing against change who can't handle it.

    Get over it. Not all change not initiated by YOU is bad.
  • by fredrik70 ( 161208 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @06:16PM (#29522951) Homepage

    But they DID want those features!. MS realised users didn't find the functionality when they asked for functionality that was already in Office since long ago. The Ribbon was their take on trying to solve that, and personally I think they are on the right track,

    Anyway, this whole discussion seems bit unneccessary since I cannot find anywhere on mozilla.org where they say they will use the ribbon, they do however give some examples of how they think future firefox will look and whgile it's not the ribbon, it quite pretty, although one can see they looked quite a lot at Chrome and ie 7/8:

    https://wiki.mozilla.org/Firefox/Sprints/Windows_Theme_Revamp/Direction_and_Feedback [mozilla.org]

  • by Fallen Seraph ( 808728 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @06:54PM (#29523419)

    If he had trouble with it, regardless of his previous experience, then it's because it's not intuitive! Where intuition means the ability to use the product without reading manuals, looking up online help, etc.

    I'm sorry, but you're quite wrong here. Previously used conventions are a major part of UI design, but abandoning old conventions for better ones is both a major and necessary risk at times. By your definition, how intuitive a system is depends entirely on the person using it, and the results of testing would have no objective value. The fact is that old Office menus were complete garbage, and we only liked them because we'd been using them for the better part of almost 2 decades.

    I remember my heuristics professor once telling us how she was at CES one year and there was this black device at one of the booths. It just looked like a box, and had no buttons or anything, and she stood there for a while trying to figure out how to turn it on. It never occurred to her to just touch it. When she did, it immediately lit up and exposed interactive elements on it's surface.

    Something being intuitive is not what you describe it to be. It is the ability of a system to be learned and adapted to quickly. Prior knowledge of other systems can either help or hinder this scenario, but the baseline is from the perspective of one who's never interacted with this sort of technology before. If you are accustomed to other systems for the same task, but which function differently, this will be an obvious hindrance as your mind subconsciously begins looking for the same conventions, which are notably lacking. The real measure of its worth is how long it takes to relearn how to use the new system.

    I was personally hesitant to try it as well, and put it off for about two years, but found it surprisingly comfortable to use when I finally capitulated. Additionally, it's very obvious that the ribbon's real purpose is actually to provide a common interface for legacy, and potential future touch screen displays, with its use of large buttons and more area.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @07:17PM (#29523611)

    Except that even once you're used to it, it still takes up a HUGE chunk (relatively) of vertical screen real estate which you can never get back. You know, the dimension that's becoming less and less available as the OEMs beat the "widescreen" drum because they can claim the same number of inches for less pixels?

    On my install of firefox 2, I have the toolbar, menubar, *AND* address bar all stuck on the same line. It takes up 16 vertical pixels. The tab bar is another 16 pixels. This is a godsend on tiny screened devices. Yes, I may be able to hide the ribbon, but it's not very useful when it's hidden, is it? It adds another click to *everything* that simply does not need to be there. Used to be, in Word, I could cram all of the functions I use often (including "hide spelling/grammer errors") onto one toolbar. One toolbar which would fit next to the menubar on most screens. The other functions were there under the menus if I needed them. Can I do that now? (Maybe I can--if the ribbon can be reduced to ~16 or so pixels tall while still giving one-click access to functions, then maybe it's less of an abortion than I've given it credit for.)

    I can't understand why vertical screen space is treated like it's free and unlimited when really it is becoming more precious with time.

  • by ClosedSource ( 238333 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @07:18PM (#29523621)

    I guess it depends on the definition of "advanced user". If it means "most efficient", you're right. If it means a user that creates complex spreadsheets, who knows?

  • by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @07:29PM (#29523699) Journal

    >>>Most people who actually give the ribbon a chance get used to it in about 2 weeks -

    Wow. 2 weeks of my life wasted so I could save 1/4 second selecting my command. Yeah. Benjamin Franklin had a saying about that - "Penny wise; pound foolish," to describe people who count pennies but spend dollars recklessly.

  • by magisterx ( 865326 ) <{TimothyAWiseman} {at} {gmail.com}> on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @08:24PM (#29524071)
    I am not a fan of the ribbons either. They seem to complicate things unnecessarily. Change != Progress, Differenent Better
  • by stalky14 ( 574130 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @08:31PM (#29524123)
    > (Heck, Windows has pretty much _always_ had one of the most responsive UIs.)

    ...except when spinning up a CD or formatting a floppy. Those are far too CPU-intensive operations!

  • by Alcoholist ( 160427 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @09:00PM (#29524273) Homepage

    It's also difficult to describe to another person on the phone. That can matter because some of us poor suckers have to provide telephone tech support to people and stuff.

    At least with a classic text menu you can say, "See the menu bar? Now click on File, then Print, etc.." Its a whole lot easier with words up there.

  • by glennpratt ( 1230636 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @09:42PM (#29524527) Homepage
    I'm really surprised that the Slashdot crowd has so much trouble with the ribbon. I'm an IT consultant and across all the people I've deployed Office 2007 to, not one has had more then a handful of questions and zero complaints (at least with regard to the ribbon). Many people actively sought a budget to get 2007 after seeing someone else use it, I never pushed it on anyone. On top of that, people are using styles instead of hand formatting everything, creating locked forms and templates (and editing them later without calling me for help) and using all sorts of feature, sometimes asking me about features I had never used. I've been using it so long, it's far more jarring to try to go back then the transition ever was. Plus auto-hiding the ribbon works great on notebooks / netbooks. Of course, I don't see how it will work in a web browser, but I guess we will see.
  • by TheLink ( 130905 ) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @11:56PM (#29525243) Journal
    > One thing the new system does get right is that everything now has a keyboard short cut and everything is supposedly quicker to get to with less mouse acrobatics.
    > The real question is after a month or so of training and learning, who will be performing better and is that performance change (if any) worth it?

    The one who is using the keyboard shortcuts.

    Conclusion switching to the ribbon is a waste of time. Adding keyboard shortcuts and documenting them would be better.

    Lots of companies like to target their UI for naive users. Very few create UIs for users who will be skilled - except for stuff like games - there are games which allow skilled users to do very many "actions per second".
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 24, 2009 @12:17AM (#29525337)

    The tired myth that the metric system is somehow "superior" because it is base ten is even more ridiculous on a forum dominated by people who are used to working bases other ten.

    The metric system is not one system of measurement, but a whole bunch of systems just as arbitrary as most other systems of measurement. Some of the measurements work out to numbers that are good for some scientific work, others may work out for numbers that are convenient for everyday use. Clearly not all of them work out. The idiots who decided that pure water's boiling and freezing points were the only possible definition points of the temperature scale are even worse than the people who decided that the Office 2007 ribbon design was better than a toolbar.

    I can live with some aspects of the metric system, but to call it superior when I'm constantly having to use strange numbers to get around its weaknesses (especially in cooking, who wants to deal with 1.25ml of oregano, and 0.625ml of freshly ground black pepper. And people claim the US system is messed up) is just silly.

    What makes a system superior has nothing to do with does the system evenly divide into ten.

  • by BitZtream ( 692029 ) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @01:52AM (#29525767)

    The ribbon may or may not be unproductive in general.

    Your problem however is you are trying to say that the Ribbon is bad because when you use Office2k7 (which is rarely) you aren't as efficient with it as you are with Finance Excel 2003, which you use very often. ...

    No shit? You can't use a tool that you use rarely as well as the tool you use constantly ... because they are different ...

    Seriously? Thats your argument for why the Ribbon is bad? God at least spend the 30 seconds it takes to find the menu which is buried in the ribbon and almost identical to the way it was in previous versions.

  • by kegel dragon ( 729853 ) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @02:56AM (#29526011)
    This move to add a ribbon doesn't actually matter. Last time I checked, Firefox was written with a free software license. So if everyone hates the new ribbon, there's always the forking option. We can just modify the program to not have a ribbon. Problem solved.
  • copy the stupid (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tom ( 822 ) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @04:54AM (#29526461) Homepage Journal

    Limi notes, too, that Linux and Mac versions are unaffected by the change.

    Good, otherwise the same minute I saw a windos "ribbon" on my Mac, Firefox would go straight from Applications to Wastebasket.

    Seriously, copying others is all cool. It's how progress is made. But you copy the good parts, not the idiocity. That's what evolution is about - copy, mutate, weed out the crap. You can't leave out the third step, they're all important.

    Advise to the Firefox people: Make it an option. Then gather statistics and see how many people really prefer it. You could be wrong. I could be wrong. You don't know until you test it.

  • by IgnoramusMaximus ( 692000 ) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @08:33AM (#29527393)

    I have no idea where you work, I assume you must be running IT for some Microsoft Gold-plated-Platinum Partner company, or some such. In all the places I had the misfortune to deploy Office 2007 (every time at the behest of some upper manager who himself or herself never bothers to actually use the computers, that's what "executive assistants" are for) it was a complete, unmitigated, fucking disaster.

    The amount of complaints and confusion was just unbelievable. In all but one cases we ended up "downgrading" back to Office 2003. And that last case is not far away from that scenario, the idiot who pushed the change having his executive position threatened over this very thing, and is now hanging by his fingernails to his job, hopefully not for too long, so that we can get rid of that abomination in that last place too.

    True, some users, particularly those who use Office on very rare occasions, do "accept" the thing, just like they "accept" everything else computer-related, simply as yet another black-magic voodoo that is just beyond them and they struggle to cope with it, baffled, just like they always did with all the other stuff on their computers. From those you rarely hear complaints, because they simply assume that it is they who are illiterate and so they suck it up, excepting an occasional guilty-looking (since they assume everything is their fault), sheepish request for help. Experienced users, with some very few exceptions, all revolted, to the point of causing disruptions in the corporate operations.

    In other words, I have no fucking clue what you are on about. The experience you describe is diametrically opposed to what I have witnessed in the field.

    Actually, scratch that, I did see a place where Office 2007 was deployed "successfully", if by "success" you mean ramming the thing down the throat of everyone by a dictatorial dictate, with all complaints directed straight to the trash can: the provincial government office. Apparently it was "in the contract" for some overpaid government-tit sucking "global" IT consultancy that they've "outsourced" their brains to.

If I have not seen so far it is because I stood in giant's footsteps.